El Paso’s Fire Department Refutes Trump’s Crowd Size Claims

Published on February 12, 2019 by Athena Pallas

President Trump claimed that the fire department allowed 10,000 people at his El Paso rally last night, despite the building having a capacity of only 8,000, but El Paso’s fire department says those claims are false and that just 6,500 people attended Trump’s rally in the El Paso County Coliseum. The fire department is a reliable source for refuting Trump’s false crowd size claims, because allowed occupancy numbers for buildings are dictated by fire codes, and due to those fire codes, the fire department would not give permission for a building to exceed those occupancy numbers by thousands, contrary to Trump’s claims. Trump didn’t stop at that false 10,000 attendee claim, however, later escalating the number to 35,000, which has no basis in fact.

President Trump seemed particularly interested in inflating his crowd size numbers in this case because of the counter-Trump march and rally headlined by Beto O’Rourke that occurred at the same time. Trump claimed O’Rourke’s crowd size was only 100 to 200 people, another false claim, as the counter-rally numbers were in the thousands, with NBC reporting between 7,000 and 8,000 people and Bloomberg News reporting between 10,000 and 15,000 people. Both estimates are more than the 6,500 people the El Paso fire department indicated were in attendance at Trump’s rally, although several thousand more Trump supporters may have been outside during, but not inside, his rally. According to The Hill:

The El Paso Fire Department on Monday denied that President Trump had received special permission to fit 10,000 people into an arena for his campaign rally in the city. Enrique Aguilar, fire public information officer, told the El Paso Times that Trump received no special treatment and that 6,500 people attended the rally at the El Paso County Coliseum…Trump on Monday night held a rally in the border city of El Paso, Texas, where he continued to call for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border…”Now the arena holds 8,000,” he added. “And thank you, fire department. They got in about 10,000. Thank you, fire department. Appreciate it.” Trump later claimed that there were 35,000 people at the rally while comparing his to the one former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) was headlining across town. “A young man who’s got very little going for himself except he’s got a great first name. He challenged us. So we have, let’s say 35,000 people tonight, and he has, say, 200 people, 300 people,” Trump said, before predicting that the media would not acknowledge the disparity…Between 7,000 and 8,000 people attended the march and rally opposing Trump on Monday, according to NBC News. Bloomberg News reported that O’Rourke’s rally drew between 10,000 and 15,000 people.

President Trump does not even bother to try to remain consistent within his own false claims. First he claimed 10,000 people were at his rally, which is not true, according to the El Paso fire department. Then later, he multiplied even that inflated number to 35,000 and, conveniently, also made false claims that the turnout at O’Rourke’s rally was many times less than it actually was. People do check these facts. The fire department is, after all, a pretty reliable source on crowd sizes. Fervent Trump supporters, some of whom buy whatever Trump says no matter what he says, may not check their facts, but most others will, and Trump just makes himself look foolish by making such obviously false claims that are clearly motivated out of self interest.

Featured image by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.